Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Convicts called Stanyer

A few weeks ago, my mother passed on a request from a friend of hers who lives in the UK. The question was simply, "What information is available about James Wilson Stanyer, a convict from Staffordshire, England to Australia?"

I must say at the outset, I love open ended queries like that ... they raise so many questions, possible answers and lines of enquiry, I get excited just thinking about all of the research I'll need to do to answer the question comprehensively.

So, sticking with just what was online, what did I find out?

Well, only two convicts with the name Stanyer came to Australia, both from Staffordshire, James Stanyer Wilson and Thomas Stanyer. 

Whilst it appears that James Stanyer Wilson is the person we are looking for, I also included the information about Thomas Stanyer because the uncommon surname made it easy for me to trace both men.

My first port of call was www.convictrecords.com.au - a comprehensive starting point for convicts sent to the Australian colonies. Using the information I found on that website, I then searched the convict databases on www.Ancestry.com and on Australian government websites (specifically www.records.nsw.gov.au and www.archives.tas.gov.au).


I really should learn how to footnote on blogger - it would make sharing research much easier - but in the meantime, let me assure you all of the information below can be found in records available through the above websites.

James Stanyer Wilson



According to the ‘Convict Records’ website, James Stanyer Wilson was one of 199 convicts transported to New South Wales or Norfolk Island on the Maitland on 26 August 1843, after he was sentenced to 16 years transportation at the Stafford Assizes.

Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other
Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

James Stanyer Wilson was received on the prison hulk York, at Gosport, on 17 May 1843 after being convicted of burglary, and sentenced to 16 years transportation on 11 March 1843. According to the prison hulk register, he was aged 23, single, a potter, and could both read and write. Only three months later, on 11 August 1843 he left the York to board the Maitland, bound at that stage for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

James Stanyer Wilson sailed from Plymouth, going via the Cape and Sydney before disembarking on Norfolk Island almost six months later on 8 February 1844. Just four months after arriving, on 17 June 1844, he died.

And now I have so many questions - Why did he die? Did he have a family at home? Sixteen years is a long sentence, did he have a prior record? He could read and write, which means he probably wasn't a street child, so where did he go to school? Were his parents still alive when he was transported? Did anyone tell them their son had died? Who were his siblings? Did he leave a sweetheart behind? And the list goes on...

Thomas Stanyer


According to the ‘Convict Records’ website, Thomas Stanyer was one of 238 convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) on the Lord Petre on 3 July 1843, after he was sentenced to seven years transportation at the Stafford Quarter Sessions.

Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other
Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
 


Thomas Stanyer was received on the prison hulk Justitia, at Woolwich, on 5 July 1842 after being convicted for seven years in Stafford on 7 March 1842 for stealing jewellery (larceny). According to the prison hulk register, he was aged 33, single and could read but not write. The gaoler described him as having a “sullen disposition” and with “bad connexions”. Almost 12 months later, he left the Justitia on 21 June 1843, bound for Van Diemen’s Land.

Thomas Stanyer boarded the Lord Petre, which departed for Van Diemen’s Land on 3 July 1843 with 238 male convicts. The ship arrived on 10 October 1843 in Hobart, three months after leaving London.

The Tasmanian archives for Thomas Stanyer during his time as a convict are quite extensive, for example, it is not until his arrival in Tasmania that we find out he was not simply “single”, but a widower with three children left behind in England.

Thomas Stanyer was given his Ticket of Leave on 20 April 1847, two years early. Perhaps this came about because of his contribution to the colony as a brick maker, but we may never know.

I wonder what happened to Thomas Stanyer after he received his Ticket of Leave? Did he stay in Tasmania, marry again, and have more children? Did he move on to another colony? Did he return to his home in England? Did he send for his three children? What buildings did he help build in the new colony? Did the colonial government even use his stills as a brick maker?




Thanks to June for sending such a fun enquiry my way - I hope you enjoy this blog post! Anyone out there who knows more about these two gentlemen, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you and find out what else went on in the lives of these two Stanyer convicts.